Formerly known as "Creepy-chusetts, Strange-chusetts".

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Update on Whittemore Ave. Greenhouse

Please refer to: Whittemore Ave Greenhouse and Emerson's Iron Lung and Quonset Hut

Just yesterday, I received a letter from the City of Cambridge. I opened the envelope jokingly thinking "What? Did they finally decide hiring me as ... god knows what...wait, wait, did I pay too little tax?" Instead, it was a letter from the mayor regarding the redevelopment plan of the Fawcett Oil site.

Click the letter to read

The site is along the Minuteman Bikeway Extension, just around the intersection of Massachusetts Ave. "I know the site", I thought. It seems the office is recently closed and waiting to be redeveloped.

Indeed the area around the Fawcett Oil is a little remain of the industrial past of the bikeway; it used to be the Boston & Main Railroad. In the past, I wrote blog entries about a disused Quonset hut which used to store Emerson's Iron Lungs and abandoned greenhouses.

Abandoned greenhouses on the bikeway
 Disused Quonset Hut

I continued reading the letter, "...the Fawcett Oil site and the old Norberg Greenhouses are developed into a residential project..."

No way, are they going to torn down THAT greenhouse to make some condos!?

Indeed, the site of the Edward F. Norberg Inc.(right next to W.R. Grace & Co.) has been abandoned for a long time. It's sooo long that the outgrown trees have been sprouting out from the glass ceilings.

The original plan by the development company was to convert the mentioned properties into a 140-unit housing complex.

"Another condo? The old Fedex storage on Cameron is long gone, making a way for a condo development!" My husband, B. screamed.

The letter also  mentions the Bishop Petition (PDF link) adopted by the concerned residents, stating that the original development plan was "simply too dense for this already congested neighborhood". Sure adding another 140 units into the neighborhood would add more honking and shouting into North Massachusetts Avenue.

Greenhouse entrance on Whittemore Ave

The letter continues: "I (SK: the mayor) have also encouraged neighbors to .... focus on the range of additional issues ... including making Tyler Court a more defined street, creating better access to the Linear Park (SK: the bikeway), and improving the residential character of Magoun Street and Whittemore Avenue."

"The residential character of Whittemore Ave...", I thought.

The original greenhouse erected for the Jacob Stickel Nursery in 1890

I recently learned that the abandoned nursery was originally developed by the Jacob Stickel Nursery prior to the Norberg Nursery. One of the greenhouses is a surviving structure of the Jacob Stickel time and was constructed in 1890. (Note: the rest of the greenhouses is a later addition.) A 120-year-old structure! I have to say it is a lot older than I expected, and I strongly think it's a shame that it's been left abandoned like the photo above. So abandoned that the demolition is the only way?...I don't know.

My opinion aside, what is yours?

Locate Whittemore Ave Greenhouse @ Google Map

Emerson's Iron Lung and Quonset Hut, the Reversed View:
Wittemore Ave Greenhouse:
Cambridge Historical Commission. Survey of Architectural History in Cambridge: Report Five Northwest Cambridge. Cambridge: MIT, 1977.


  1. Whittemore Ave has residential zoning? Huh. I though it was just mostly abandoned industrial era factories and the such.

  2. Hi Sean,

    I think there is a movement (and argument!) in changing the zoning around there right now.

  3. Wow, so many condos built around here in such a short period of time. Why not build out more park space or maybe a food store?

  4. Matthew,

    EXACTLY! A food store carrying fresh veg or more green space along the bikeway would be great.

  5. The current plans from the Fawcetts are available at

    The plans call primarily for large rental apartment buildings, not condos. The latest revision also includes some houses.

    There is also a sign up form on that page if you want to join the neighborhood mailing list on the topic, or just to share your thoughts.

  6. Thanks Anon,

    I'll join the list!